Karim Aïnouz's melodrama set in 1950s Rio de Janeiro sensationalizes womanhood
THE INVISIBLE LIFE OF EURÍDICE GUSMÃO (Karim Aïnouz). 139 minutes. Opens Friday (December 20). See listing. Rating: NN
Based on Martha Batalha’s novel, The Invisible Life Of Eurídice Gusmão is an odd melodrama, reliant on a profound sisterhood that never feels genuine.
In 1950 Rio de Janeiro, sisters Eurídice (Carol Duarte) and Guida (Julia Stockler) can’t be more different. Pianist Eurídice is vying to attend school in Austria, while Guida’s infatuation with a Greek soldier leaves her shunned and pregnant. A lie told to both keeps them apart and heartbroken for decades.
From performance to direction, the film is overwrought and awkwardly self-aware. This is how giggling teenage girls whisper salacious stories to each other! This is how defiant yet noble prostitutes have sex!
And Aïnouz’s voyeuristic lens doesn’t help, making the sisterhood feel inauthentic, even aberrant – an ick factor makes much of the film feel like an unrequited love affair. Further, the film never does a convincing job at establishing that the lie couldn’t be resolved by a few practical decisions.
One thing does ring true: unspoken female pain, suffering and unfulfillment are often viewed as psychosis. But that truth is left unexamined in a film that merely sensationalizes womanhood.